Judge returns sentence following killing of 4 in duplex apartment near Lamar

Published 2:22 pm Friday, April 29, 2022

252nd District Court Judge Raquel West sentenced Lively James Stratton Jr., 24, of Beaumont, to life in prison today for capital murder.

Criminal District Attorney Bob Wortham announced the verdict, saying on Sept. 29, 2019, Elijah Isiah Rideau, Alvin Lee Bellard, Bobby Lee Wyatt and Shannon Christopher Sutton were shot and killed in a room of their duplex apartment located at 4142 Highland Avenue, not far from Lamar University.

Officers from the Beaumont Police Department who happened to be on patrol nearby heard the shots fired and immediately responded to the location, and in doing so were able to capture dash camera video of the defendant’s car fleeing the scene, but also what would later be determined to be the dying declaration of Rideau crying out “Lively, he shot us.”

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The defendant asserted a claim of self- defense, which the State argued was not reasonable under Texas law, as at the very least three of the four men were proven to be unarmed.

The case was prosecuted by Ashley Molfino and Phillip Smith and investigated by the Beaumont Police Department.

“We are grateful for the jury’s swift verdict, and hope it will provide a needed sense of justice and closure to the families of the victims, and also send a message to the community that this level of violence is not acceptable in Jefferson County,” Molfino said.